In today’s Sunday Times there’s an interesting article on how brides get so obsessed with their wedding day and all the minor details that go into making it special, that they often experience a sense of let-down when they get back from their honeymoons and discover that they are no longer the princess. In America, this is now described as a syndrome – post wedding depression (PWD) – and sad little non-princesses can receive counselling for their troubles.
People, but mostly women, become so wrapped up in the micro-details of their weddings (napkins matching the wedding favours, anyone?) that they forget that what they are doing is getting married, to a person, and what they need to focus on is being ready for that. Thomas and I nonchalantly went along to a couple of counselling sessions with the priest who was going to marry us (he insisted on it – the priest, that is). A lot of the churchy stuff we ignored, being non-practising, non-church going, Anglicans, but there were two things he said that, without ever agreeing to, we still stick to to this day. One is the adage ‘Never let the sun go down on your anger’ and the other is ‘Always tell each other before you make purchases over a certain amount’. Emotions and money. All wrapped up. Thanks, priest. He then nonchalantly sent someone else to marry us, but unlike him, we’ve stayed committed both to his advice and to the marriage.
Years on, I look back on my own big day and I have to confess I was a bit of a Bridezilla. I was lucky in that my wedding organiser (my mother) and I were of the same mind, so she very kindly got on with the details for me. The two people who shared my office were subjected to constant long-distance telephone calls about flowers, menus, choice of photographers and so on. Luckily for me, neither complained. I didn’t throw any tantrums about the details, well not many. There was just the little matter of one groomsman deciding he would wear a tux instead of a morning suit, and my making it clear that he would find himself a morning suit in downtown Harare, or be fired from the retinue.
But what did really freak me out, what turned me into Bridezilla’s mad little cousin, was PROXIMITY OF OTHER WEDDINGS TO MY OWN. One of my dearest friends got engaged shortly after me (sorry I mean us), but announced that her wedding date would be before ours. This I regarded as scene-stealing of the worst order, and I had a lot of Bridezillery moments around my family and my intended. I experienced extreme Schadenfreude when she could only get a church date three weeks after my wedding, but this eased when she asked me to be a bridesmaid.
But Bridezilleriness does not extend to brides only; it seems to go further than that. I’ve noticed now that the women around the bride can be even worse ‘Zillas than the person getting married. I’ve been to or heard about weddings where mothers-in-law, mothers, sisters, aunts and even grannies get in on the act, usually to upstage the bride herself. It’s as if weddings are a disease that only women get, and the whiff of madness spreads to all.
When my father remarried (a whole year after me, so it was allowed), my dear grandmother, who admittedly was approaching senility, refused point-blank to wear the lovely suit my aunt had picked out for her. Instead she came to the wedding in tracky-pants and a delightful Zimbabwe T-shirt. If I’m not wrong, her dog came too. She kept asking in a stage whisper ‘Which one’s the bride?’.
I did love my ‘special day’ and, I have to admit, adored being the centre of attention (oh yes, Thomas was too). It was very hard for me, three weeks later, to climb down from my pedestal and be a mere accessory to someone else’s glory. But now I know, thanks to the Sunday Times, that that painful severing from princesshood saved me from months of PWD. So I have to thank my friend – and you know who you are – for her random act of kindness.